Making food choices at the Rodeo can be tough, especially when you are also trying to catch a ride, buy some boots and pet an alpaca while planning how to score the best seat in the concert. What if we tell you there is a cheat sheet to all the best food around the arena?

Last Thursday, a roomful of celebrity judges (read: hungry print, radio, and TV personalities) each sampled 20-plus rodeo dishes and picked their favorites in eight categories for the Gold Buckle Foodie Awards. Commercial Exhibits Committee Vice Chairperson Brooks Bradford, our jovial server, confided to me that though more 70 food vendors are scattered throughout the arena, he is partial to those housed near the NRG Center.

“Food, shopping and carnival bring out most people. It just so happens there’s a rodeo going on,” Bradford said. “Everybody gets excited, they all have their tried and true favorites, they always want to try something a little bit different.”

Are these the best foods you will ever eat? Probably not. Will they fill you up and fuel your Texan spirit? Absolutely yes. Especially the fried brisket ball.

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